One of my favorite things about “Dorothy Parker Drank Here” is learning that author Ellen Meister has created a series starring the sharp-tongued Mrs. Parker. Book #1 was the excellent “Farewell, Dorothy Parker.” “Dorothy Parker Drank Here” is the second installment.
Here, Mrs. Parker decides she doesn’t want to be alone for all eternity. So she tries to get reclusive author Ted Shriver—who’s holed-up in one of the Algonquin Hotel’s rooms, impatiently waiting to die from a brain tumor—to sign the famed Algonquin Guestbook. If he signs, he will be allowed to remain in The Algonquin as long as he wants.
Mrs. Parker’s problem, however, is that all of her friends seem anxious to move on into the light once they die. She’s not ready to go.
She soon finds herself helping TV production assistant, Norah Wolfe, as she tries to land an interview with the intensely private and rude Shriver. Between guiding Norah, and cajoling Ted Shriver directly, wheels are set in motion. However, the story takes twists and turns Norah is ill-prepared to handle, and in the end, she faces what could be the greatest tragedy of her young life.
The beauty of this series, of course, is that Dorothy Parker’s ghost plays such a role in things. She’s ready to tongue-lash any idiots who cross her path, and there are plenty of idiots, both in New York and the various situations she encounters. It’s almost like “Murder, She Wrote,” but with a shrewish wit helping her various new acquaintances.
As in “Farewell, Dorothy Parker,” Ms. Meister shows an encyclopedic knowledge of Dorothy Parker’s wit. Even when not using one of Mrs. Parker’s direct quotes, the author has a firm, hilarious command of what she would say, and how she would say it.
Dorothy Parker is sui generis in American letters. She could out-snark anybody, which is what makes her such a wonderful recurring heroine. It will be interesting to see whether Ms. Meister can maintain the first two volumes’ quality across a series. After all, Mrs. Parker deserves no less.